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Tom Rockwell


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I was trained in the visual arts (BA Brown University) and have long been interested in combining art and science. This interest led me to work in science museums (Franklin Institute and Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia) where I was an educator in the late 1980s. In 1991 I moved to Ithaca, NY, where I helped design the new science center and stayed on working with the architect, Robert Leathers. Through Leathers and Associates I designed and coordinated construction of dozens of community-built science parks and science playgrounds across the US.

In 1995, I founded Painted Universe Inc. to pursue exhibit design, fabrication and scientific illustration. Projects included permanent exhibits for the Materials Research Society, traveling exhibitions, such as "It's a NanoWorld" (with the Ithaca Sciencenter and Cornell University) and "The Enchanted Museum: Exploring the Science of Art" (with the Berkshire Museum) and illustrations for "The Elegant Universe" by Brian Greene.

In early 2005, I joined the Exploratorium to lead the Center for Public Exhibition and Public Programs. I am currently a principal investigator for the NISE Network, leading the Visualization Laboratory strand of work. Other major projects I'm involved in are a collaboration with the Queens Borough Public Library to create a children's library-exhibition hybrid and the Geometry Playground traveling exhibition and research project. I live across the bay from the museum in El Cerrito with my partner Katrina and my children, Mateo (7) and Lucia (4).

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